If there is one constant in military technology it's that there's a constant arms race between offense and defense. Every time a new attacking technology is invented, a defending technology is devloped to defeat it, and vice versa.
The same is true of the emerging field of hypersonic missiles. With their ability to fly at five times the speed of sound, their potential to revolutionize warfare is profound. With such speed, they can penetrate conventional air defenses before they can be detected and outrun most anti-aircraft missiles except under the most favorable circumstances.
Because of this, DARPA and other agencies around the world are seeking ways to intercept hypersonic weapons. In this case, the Glide Breaker program is tasked with developing technology to lock onto and intercept hypersonic missiles during their vulnerable glide phase when some types of hypersonic vehicles reach top speed by flying to high altitudes and then accelerating with the help of gravity.
For the current contract, Boeing will work on the computational fluid dynamics analysis and wind tunnel testing of the Glide Breaker prototype and carry out an evaluation of aerodynamic jet interaction effects during flight testing. This will be used for the development of operational glide-phase interceptors.
"Hypersonic vehicles are among the most dangerous and rapidly evolving threats facing national security," said Gil Griffin, executive director of Boeing Phantom Works Advanced Weapons. "We're focusing on the technological understanding needed to further develop our nation's counter-hypersonic capabilities and defend from future threats.